Class ?S' ^s :aa
Book, . J fe ^l
q I 3
The Spirit of the Regulators
A Play in
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forbidden, and rights of representation reserved.
Application for the right of performing
the above piece must be
made to the author
Smithfield, North Carolina
RALEIGH. N. C.
Edwards <fe Brou?hton Printinfi: Co.
At the University of North Carolina, on the evening of
July 4, 1911, the Summer School Dramatic Club, under the
direction of Mr. Adolph Vermont, presented As You Like It.
On this occasion the dramatic power and skill of Mr. Ver-
mont stood revealed to a North Carolina audience. The
writer of this note at once suggested to Mr. Vermont that
he write a play based upon North Carolina history, to be
presented before the Summer School of 1912; and he fur-
ther suggested the theme: the struggle of the new order
against the old that culminated in the American Revolu-
tion. Esther Wake is the result. It was presented by
the Summer School Dramatic Club on the campus of the
University, July 4, 1912. The reception it received from a
large and cosmopolitan audience was spontaneous and en-
thusiastic; and this time the power and skill of the play-
wright were revealed, for he had seized upon a dramatic
incident in our history and brought us face to face with
the "times that tried men's souls." He had brought back
the spirit that animated and dominated our forefathers
when they wrought out American freedom.
In this play the dramatist lays no claim to literal his-
toric accuracy. It was not his purpose simply to write a
chapter of history, but rather to bring us face to face with
the spirit of the Revolution. He found it necessary to
depart here and there from strict historic truth; but in
doing so he has only exercised the prerogative and freedom
of the playwright. What matters it if Esther Wake never
existed in reality? A heroine was needed. What matters
it if the hymn, AMde With Me, was not written until long
afterwards? It is the only song that fits where it is used
and is superior to anything that could be written for the
purpose. Changing a line from Mrs. Browning,
Only facts to make a play!
and continuing the quotation, we have a further answer:
The literal unities of time and place
When 'tis the essence of passion to ignore
Both time and place? Absurd! Keep up the fire,
And leave the generous flames to shape themselves."
The early history of North Carolina is peculiarly rich in
events and characters that lend themselves readily to dra-
matic treatment. It is, as Mr. Vermont expresses it, "a
veritable mine of dramatic gold-ore." There is Virginia
Dare and the Lost Colony, Cornelius Harnett and the re-
jection of the stamps, the Edenton Tea Party, Elizabeth
Steel and the Mecklenburg Patriots, Flora McDonald and
Moore's Creek, all waiting to be touched by the imagination
of the poet and playwright and brought back to us by his
genius. Let us express the hope that Mr. Vermont will
give further of his time and talent to this high service.
N. W. Walker.
Chapel Hill, N. C.
June 5, 1913.
The Persons of the Play
James Ptjgh, a gunsmith, leader of the Regulators. ^
Trton, Governor of North Carolina.
Edmund Panning, friend of Tryon, enemy of the Regulation.
Dick, old servant in the house of Tryon.
Allen, old servant in the house of Tryon.
Waddell, prominent North Carolinian.
Caswell, prominent North Carolinian.
Pearson (old man), Regulator.
Hunter (farmer), Regulator.
William, grandson of Pearson.
Wood, deputy sheriff of Orange County.
Husbands, a Quaker preacher.
Margaret (a commoner), friend of Esther Wake.
Courtiers, Soldiers, Regulators.
THE FIRST ACT. The scene is laid in front
of the palace of Governor Tryon, at Newhern.
Through the hrilliantly lighted windowSj there
comes an abundant light on the stage, A sim-
ple rustic bench in the foreground completes
Enter Dick and AtJjAN^ two old men in
the service of Tryon.
Dick : Aye, Allan, I like style and manners, I
am proud of the Colony tonight: my lord
Tryon has not forgotten the grand old days of
dear Eiig] and.
Allan (indifferently) : Even so, Dick.
Dick: There is music in the heavens tonight.
Up yonder the stars twinkle merrily, and down
here the light dances gaily through the win-
Allan : You seem very happy, Dick.
Dick: And you sad, where all are merry.
Come, man, the betrothal of Miss Esther should
drive away all care from your brow.
Allan : I love her well, Dick.
Dick : By the gods, you should ! She is fair as
a lily, free as the breeze. Do you remember
the night, when our old master called us in his
room, and laid her in your arms? A little
mite then, now a full groT\Ti woman, and the
fairest lady of the land.
Allan (becoming interested) : She has played
many a time with these old whiskers. I love
her as if she were mv own blood.
8 Esther Wake
Dick: And the night of the storm! How
brave! You remember when we came over?
Old sailors were pale, when the lightning
leaped over the waters and she, brave little
heart, stood by the mast, singing her song to
the wind. It did my old eyes good to see her
Allan: Yesterday, Mistress Margaret said
that she was sweeter-faced than Saint Agnes,
who stands behind the altar in the stained
window. I wish that she and Margaret could
meet. I have told her so much about good
Dick: That must not be. Margaret is a com-
moner, a woman of the people, though I grant
she has schooling. Nobility and commons
can not meet.
Allan : Margaret is more than common good,
then she brings up her children well.
Dick: I am her friend, Allan, do not let us
quarrel about her. Let us speak of more joy-
ful things: tonight Miss Esther — thank
Allan (interrupts him) : Do not say that.
Dick: What ails you, friend?
Allan : Forgive me, sir, I am prattling like an
Dick : You deceive yourself and me, your
friend. There is sorrow in your soul, your
heart is heavy, and there are tears within
Allan (suddenly): Dick, I am not happy.
Dick: I guessed it but too well. What is it
Esther Wake 9
that disturbs you, especially tonight, when
Miss Esther will publicly bestow her hand on
the most cultured man in the Colony?
Allan: There lies my sorrow. That bright-
est, that most cultured man in the Colony is
not loved by the people among whom he
dwells. The citizens of Orange County hate
Dick : That is a mistake, you are not well in-
Allan : A thousand tongues have repeated this
news, and it has traveled to the ears of my
lady. She asked me and I could not deny.
The enemies of her future fiance have organ-
ized themselves under the leadership of one
brave and almost desperate Pugh, a youth of
uncommon character. There is trouble brew-
Dick: How does Miss Esther feel? Does she
believe this accusation against her fiance?
Allan : She is worried, sir. She has met this
young man Pugh, she knows his strong deter-
mination ; still she fears no evil will come out
of the trouble. Pugh is fair and noble
Dick (interrupting) : There he comes again.
Dick: He! He came here twice to ask an
audience of the Governor. I refused him en-
trance, because he disclosed neither his name
nor the burden of his errand. Then he does
not wear the proper clothes, he entirely disre-
10 Esther Wake
Allan : Heavens ! it is the gunsmith of Hills-
boro. I say it again, Dick; there is trouble
Dick (draws himself up rather pompously):
Here again, sir? Your card?
Allan: No guests will be allowed without
PuGH : I have no card. I wish to see the Gov-
ernor, I must see him tonight.
Allan : You can not be admitted to his pres-
ence without requesting first an audience.
His Excellency is very busy with the festivi-
ties of tonight.
Dick : Furthermore, young friend, as I have
said before, your hunting suit is out of place
at the palace.
PuGH : I am sorry, sir, that my hair is not
powdered, and that my shoes are without
buckles, but I prefer the odor of the wood-
floAvers to the perfume of your puffs. I have
come to see your master, once more I respect-
fully request an audience.
Dick (excited): In that apparel? Tonight!
Why etiquette! Style!
Pugh: Stjle be damned! I will go in peace-
ably if you let me enter, forcibly if you longer
Allan : Pray, young gentleman, your interest
will be better served by your patience. My
old friend Dick is somewhat hastj^ May I
inform His Excellency of the errand —
Esther Wake 11
Pugh: Tell him that I am the messenger of
the people of Orange County, that in their
name I wish to speak to him, that I must see
Allan : Your name young man?
Pugh : James Pugh, the gunsmith of Hillshoro.
Allan : I will go in at once. You may either
be seated or stroll about the lawn. (Exit.)
Pugh (to Dick toho stands erect like a statue) :
Do not move, friend, you might hurt yourself.
Do not laugh, you might snap! Keep cool —
I will walk around you.
Dick: Upon my word, what does he mean?
(He folloivs Pugh at some distance.) Why
you are entirely unused to the style and man-
ners of gentlefolk, a rank barbarian. This
country is not civilized. If I were not so old,
young man, I would teach you a valuable
Margaret (enters on the opposite side, calls):
Dick: Well, is that you. Mistress Margaret?
Do you see that vandal over there? That
man is a barbarian. What ! are you weeping?
Margaret : I am so unhappy, Dick !
Dick: You, Mistress Margaret? Impossible.
Margaret : I have spent the last shilling of my
widow's pension. My children! my children!
That was a cruel storm which took away their
father from them, and buried him in the
deep sea. Dick, you were my husband's best
friend, you must help me.
Dick : He certainly was kind and good.
12 Esther Wake
Margaret : Dick, you must help. If only I had
a shilling for tonight.
Dick: A shilling! upon my word, you shall
have it. First, because you are a fine young
widow; second, because you are a gentle
widow; third, because you are a beautiful,
gentle young widow. Upon my word, this is
no flattery either (feels about for a shilling)
only, I have no shilling here.
Margaret: My little ones must eat, Dick.
They have fasted since this morning. Their
little eyes are filled Avith hunger, their little
bodies are so weak, and they are so beautiful.
Dick : Wait here, Margaret. Let me run. No,
pardon me, do not wait here. Some guests
might arrive soon and would not understand
your presence. Your widow weeds do not
suit the happy occasion.
Margaret : I remain but a moment ; go, Dick.
Dick : We have orders to admit guests who are
invited and no others. Not to permit any one
about. Suppose you sit on yonder bench, I
will run fast.
Esther Wake quietly appears through
the palace door, stops and listens.
Margaret: If you think it better, if I must
Esther (advancing) : You must not. Eest
here on this seat. Mrs. Margaret, it seems
to me we are no strangers ; Allan has so often
spoken about you and your children. I wish
to be your friend.
Esther Wake 13
Margaret: How can I be, Miss Esther? I am
a poor sailor's widow. You are the first lady
in tj^e land!
Esther : You are a woman and I am a woman.
Birth made me gentle, your character enno-
bled you. You belong to the knightly rank
of gentle women, whose nobility is not by the
favor of some prince, or the right of ancestry.
You are knighted by the admiration of all
who honor holy motherhood. Shall we be
Margaret : Still, I am a woman of the people.
Esther: But more than a commoner to me.
Travel forces companions on us, society visit-
ors. We are polite to both, but soon forget
their presence. Our own hearts choose our
friends, and I choose mine whenever and
wherever I please. I stand guard at the gates
of my soul, and they alone may enter to whom
my hand opens. Shall we be friends?
Dick coughs and tries to shoto his dis-
Esther : You are faithful, Dick, but you do not
understand. (She takes the hand of Margaret
and presents her to DiCK.j Margaret is my
friend, Dick, the friend of Esther Wake. What
Dick : That you are right, Miss Esther, always
Esther : Here is a little present for you and for
your children. Kiss them goodnight for me.
Margaret : The Colony worships you. Miss Es-
ther, and I love you ! (Exit.)
14 Esther Wake
Esther : Who is the youth who is strolling up
and down the lawn?
Dick : That is him !
Dick : That barbarian from Hillsboro, who has
been here since yesterday, and has caused me
no end of trouble.
Esther: A barbarian, Hillsboro?
Dick: Yes, they call him Pugh, he is not even
Esther (smiling): I know him well, Dick.
Look, he is gentle and his step is graceful.
Dick : Upon my word, he stops to speak to Mar-
garet! He offers her his arm, and she —
Esther : Those are not the ways of a barbarian,
Dick: He comes from Orange County, the
country of the Regulators. He is a Regulator,
too, their leader, and he has no respect for old
English customs and authority. He is^ —
I wish he would return to his county!
Esther: Come, Dick, he must have uninten-
tionally offended you! Let no little incident
mar our happiness. Go tell Allan that I wish
to see him. (She takes letter from her hosom^
whilst Dick goes out; she reads and seems to
pause in thought.)
Esther: There you are, good Allan. Did you
place this letter on my table?
Allan : No, my dear Mistress.
Esther Wake 15
Esther: Read it, Allan.
Allan (reads): "Beware of Hillsboro and Or-
Esther: Why do you turn so pale?
Allan: Because — because, God help us, gentle
Mistress: the man to whom you will publicly
bestow your hand tonight, is not loved by his
Esther: And someone else wished to tell me!
I have keenly felt this anger of the people.
They are my friends and warn me of some im-
pending danger. I had thought the unfriend-
liness of the people to Mr. Fanning a passing
danger. What is there in his character that
makes him so unwelcome to the people? He
is cultured and of elegant manner. He is my
brother's best friend. Brother tells me often
of him, and praises him.
Allan : Alas, the hatred increases day by day !
The Colonists of Orange have sent here a
young man, a certain Pugh, a sturdy lad, with
a message to the Governor.
Esther: A neighbor of Mr. Fanning. I have
known him well. I was in his very smithy,
I stood and watched his inborn courtesy. His
people love him.
Allan : Aye, a noble lad.
Esther: Young, brave, intensely patriotic. He
loves his people with a love undying. (To
herself): Why is not Mr. Fanning like him?
Allan : Perhaps we have exaggerated these re-
ports. The cloud of today is the lake of to-
morrow. After your wedding you will settle
16 Esther Wake
in Hillsboro, your gentle ways will win the
hearts of the people to you and to your hus-
band. You will be happy.
Esther: Would and it were so! This letter
spells trouble, someone else has seen the
Allan : No, gentle Mistress, you are too kind,
too good. No storm must pass over your head.
I am old, old, I could not bear to see you
Esther: Dear old Allan, you shall go with us,
and see your little Esther happy. (She gently
takes his hand, he fondly kisses hers.)
Allan: Heaven bless you, gentle one. (Es-
ther emt.) Aye, you are more gracious than
Dick (hears the last words of AllanJ; Those
are sweet things you mutter about our mis-
Allan : They are true, Dick.
Dick: Did you see Miss Esther?
Allan : I found her here.
Dick: There comes Lord Tryon, arm in arm
with Colonel Fanning.
Allan: They seem in deepest earnest. ("Dick
and Allan withdraw to the rear.)
Tryon (entering ivith Col. Fanning; ; No, Col.
Fanning, the people do not understand us. It
is absurd that citizens of this Colony should
demand all the rights of a free-born English-
man. These Colonists are undeveloped^ en-
tirely unable to govern themselves, certainly
not able to make their own laws.
Esther Wake 17
Fanning: That makes their attitude towards
Your Excellency so provoking. What are they
after all but farmers, commoners, little
tradesmen? They can never understand the
wise principles on which you base the admin-
istration of this Colony.
Tryon : Aye, there lies the trouble.
Fanning: England has always selected and
trained her sons for the higher tasks of gov-
ernment. Her future statesmen are the ob-
ject of her greatest care, and in this wise se-
lection lies her strength. Do not worry. Your
Excellency, if a handful of farmers of Orange
County do not appreciate your motives.
Tryon : That is it. Colonel, their minds are un-
tutored. I regret however, I deeply regret
that the people of North Carolina do not un-
derstand my aversion to turmoil, my ardent
desire for peace.
Fanning: They are at variance with you, but
not on personal grounds. They are good,
kind-hearted in some things; in others woe-
fully ignorant, supremely stubborn.
Tryon : Well, they must obey the law. Colonel.
Their sedition must stop. I trust that you
will support me in bringing this misguided
people to reason, and to obedience to England.
And if kind persuasion will not win them —
Fanning: What then, my Lord?
Tryon: They call me the Great Wolf. By
Heaven! they will hear the Great Wolf howl
on the hills of Occoneechee! The good old
blood of the Tryons runs red in my veins, I
18 Esther Wake
will crush the damned rebellion under my
heel. But come, let us speak of brighter
things : this evening will be memorable to you,
my brother-in-law to be. (He sees Dick and
Allan.) Dick, Allan, I will devote myself to
the pleasures of the evening; admit no one on
business. Only guests come in, who present
Dick: There is a Regulator here from Hills-
boro, who insists on seeing you, a most impu-
dent young fellow.
Allan : I have tried to find you, my Lord, to
ask audience for him.
Tryon: You heard my orders. Tell him to re-
return in the morning. (Dick and Allan how
Allan : I shall so inform him. Sir.
Enter Various Colples talking and
laughing. They offer their cards and pass
in. Then suddenly The Scene Changes
and discloses the interior of the palace.
Music is heard and the couples arrange
themselves laughingly in the order of a min-
uet. They dance, talk^ laugh and disperse.
Some leave the scene, others walk up and
Caswell (coming to the front): A delightful
dance, indeed. The Colony may be proud of
her men and women. Those are handsome
Waddell: The Governor entertains well. The
elite of the province is here tonight, the aris-
tocracy of our fair land. We do not yield in
elegance to the proudest blood in England.
Esther Wake 19
Caswell : I do wish that the Governor and the
people of England might appreciate better the
fact that Carolina is the peer of England in
civilization and in stnrdy manners. If our
English cousins could see us from nearby,
they would not call us so provincial. (Dick
enters all excited.) What has happened,
Dick: He came in, Colonel, he is coming —
no he is not in yet, he is at the door, that
barbarian of Orange County. Allan is try-
ing to persuade him not to enter. I told
him to come back in the morning. Why he is
a common Regulator. His suit is an out-
rage against the style of this pleasant cere-
Waddell: a Regulator?
Dick: Yes, Pugh, their leader. You may
know him, he looks at me with eyes like a
wolf's. When I refused him entrance, he
placed his fist under my chin. "Old Rusty,"
said he, "let me in, or I will shove your head
from its hinges." I lost my courage, sir, and
left him with Allan. He further swore that
he would come in and that all hell would not
Caswell: Mr. Pugh is a true man, Dick. Go
talk it all over with him, Dick, be brave, be
Dick: I am brave, sir, until I see him. Then
my courage evaporates, sir, evaporates, evap-
orates. (He repeats the luords as they urge
Caswell: I esteem the Governor sincerely.
20 Esther Wake
General, and wish that he might please the
Colonists. It is true that some of the men
are hard to please, but they are men and can
be appealed to as men.
Waddell: If England took the broader view
and extended all the privileges of her subjects
to North Carolina, there would be no Regula-
Caswell: He makes one unfortunate mistake:
he leaves Mr. Fanning in charge of the clerk's
office in Orange County, and Mr. Fanning is
not acceptable to the people of Orange. I re-
joice though, in his winning of Miss Esther's
hand, though I doubt that love alone brought
Waddell: What do you mean, sir?
Caswell: That perhaps the influence of the
Governor was not foreign to this match. That
politics led cupid by the hand — But I won-
der how our old friend Dick and Mr. Pugli
are getting on? The Regulators are becom-
ing daily bolder, and Pugh is brave among
the bravest. Yet it would be unwise for him
to force himself into this palace at this unpro-
Blast of trumpets. Herald appears. Pro-
cession of young men and women arranged
in ttvo rotvs. They advance to the front of
the stage, preceded a feiv steps hy Governor
Tryon. They hold sticks covered with rih-
hons and roses, which form an all-tvhite
archway under which there advance Fan-
ning and Esther. They are all in sump-
tuous court costumes.
Esther Wake 21
Herald (after blowing another blasts reads
from broad parchment) : In the name of the
King of Love, Chief Kuler of the Domain of
Youth. Be it known to all here present, that
on this, the first day of September, 1769, in
this goodly town of Newbern, the gracious and
most noble Esther Wake, Sister-in-law to His
Excellency the Governor of His Majesty's
Province of North Carolina, does solemnly
betroth herself to and publicly bestow her
hand on the most worthy and worshipful Ed-
mund Fanning, Colonel in the Armies of His
Majesty, and Clerk of the Court of Orange
County. So be ye all witnesses, and may
Heaven grant them long life and prosperity.
All: Long life and prosperity!
Waddell: In tlie name of the distinguished
company, I extend to the young couple and
to His Excellency, our most sincere congratu-
lations. Long may they live and prosper!
All (repeat Waddell's words.)
PuGH enters suddenly^ facing the couple.
Fanning: James Pugh?
PuGH : James Pugh, sir.
Tryon : What is this intrusion, young man?
Dick, why did you allow this man to enter?
Dick : He just came in, sir.
Pugh : Pardon me. Governor, I have asked au-
dience three times, and three times have I
been refused. Our people are oppressed with
unjust taxes and we demand redress. Your
22 Esther Wake
officers have squeezed the lifeblood from our
veins. In the name of the people I demand
Tryon : You insolently intrude yourself on this
assembly. Do you knoAV, sir, where you are?
Fanning: Let him be ejected, Lord Tr^^on.
PuGH : Slowly, Mr. Fanning. You are the very
man whom the people of Orange consider the
worst oppressor of the Colony. You are the
man who stands accused in the Court of Hills-
boro of extortion. I, in the name of the peo-
ple, accuse you.
Tryon : Do you know in whose presence you
stand, James Pugh? I represent His Majes-
ty, the King of England.
Pugh : I represent no one, I am the people,
the young people of Carolina grown into the
strength of manhood. And we demand of
you and of the King not political oppression,
but the supreme gift of liberty.
Tryon : These are rebellious words. Men like
you are a danger to the rest of the Colony.
Dick, call the guards. (To Pugh): You are
Pugh : You will lay your hands on the mes-
senger of a freedom-loving people.
Esther (to Tryon) : Brother, permit me to
make one request on this memorable evening.
You, too, will permit me, Mr. Fanning. You
both wish the people well; why not meet and
settle all your differences?
Pugh : Gracious lady, the Court will soon meet
in Orange County, the Court before which
Esther Wake 23
Mr. Fanning stands accused. We have asked
that his cause be tried: our prayer has been
vain. Delay has succeeded delay, and oppres-
sion is growing bitter. We want the Governor
to go to Hillsboro and be present at the trial.
Mr. Fanning, let the Court pronounce, but
let the Court be just. If you are innocent
and falsely accused, then let your innocence
be knoAvn. Governor, come and be with your
Esther: Is this your only request?
Fanning : He asks you to surrender under
veiled threats, to the Regulation. If you ac-
cept the invitation, there will be no further
trouble, and if you do not —
Pugh: We will meet you openly, as friend.
Will you meet us as our friend?
Esther: Gracious brother, in the name of our
sweet betrothal, go. Mr. Fanning, if wrongs
have been committed, there has been no malice
on the part of the authorities. All wrongs
may be redressed. Let there be rejoicing,
peace and harmony in the Colony. Mr. Fan-
ning, ask His Excellency with me.
Fanning : Miss Wake, the Regulators are inso-
lent and overbearing. In the kindness of
your heart, you ask that we surrender to these
men. I am no coward. I will meet you, Mr.
Pugh, at Hillsboro. May I invite my bride-
to-be to go and witness the justice of a court,
which shall proclaim my innoncence? I wooed
you with shield unstained, I'll marry you with
24 Esther Wake
Tryon: Miss Esther, I will decide later. The
principle involved in this request — I will think
Esther: Brother, in the name of Carolina and
dear England, promise that you will go and
meet these people. Let there be peace.
Tryon : Sister, I never have refused you a fa
vor. Today above all days, I must yield. Mr
Pugh, tell the people of Hillsboro and of Or
ange County, that I shall hasten the trial
At the request of Miss Wake, you are free to
return to your county, for peace, if you wish
for war, if you do not cease your rebellious
Pugh: I thank you, gracious lady. We shall
meet at Hillsboro; the men will honor you.
Miss Wake. As to you, gentlemen, there are
no cowards in Orange County.
Esther Wake 25
ACT II, Scene 1. A loioly cabin, the home of
Margaret. The furniture shotos some refine-
ment, the decorations on the wall suggest sail-
or's life. Esther and Margaret are discovered
in the foreground. In the rear of the room,
one of her little children sleeps on a couch.
Esther: I too, will go to Hillsboro, Margaret,
but you must go with me.
Margaret: What help can I be?
Esther: Listen. I told you of dear Allan's
death — Before he sank to rest he took
my hand in his : '^You need a friend," he said,
^'and only Avoman is woman unto woman. I
am glad that you met Margaret, her words are
soft and healing to a troubled soul. Her heart
is gentle and her soul is true. She will be
Margaret: But you have not suffered?
Esther : My soul is in a whirl, there is a storm
Margaret (places her hand affectionately on
the hand of Esther) : I love you, Miss Es-
Esther: Then let your love speak. Do the
Colonists esteem me as much as they say
Margaret: They do.
Esther (suddenly) : Why do they not love Mr.
Fanning? Why does he not love those men
and women of a youthful nation, who have
grappled with the forest and torn from its
flanks their simple homes?
26 Esther Wake
Margaret (avoiding ansicer): When I met Mr.
Pugh and he escorted me so courteously home,
that night, he told me how in Orange County,
the Colonists have woven love and reverence
about your name. Of all the men and women,
who came over from England, none is as dear
to them as Esther Wake. You will be wel-
come on the Eno.
Esther: Brother thinks that sentiment befogs
my reason. ^'Thej^ will say,'' he said, ^'she
came for fear. That Mr. Fanning might be
Margaret: Your brother is mistaken. "She
came for love of all," the Colonists will say,
you will be Avelcome.
Esther (silent a moment , then suddenly rising
in the deepest emotion) : I dare not go.
Margaret: You, brave Esther Wake?
Esther (clasping Margaret^ s hand) : Marga-
ret, do you see this diamond sparkle in this
ring? It is the lover's eye that looks within
your soul, a witness to your truth and stead-
fastness. It beams with joy when the bride-
to-be is true, it flashes bitter bolts when the
bride-to-be grows cold. Margaret, this dia-
mond reflects the shadows of the night.
Margaret: But you are true to Mr. Fanning?
Esther: Sometimes I think I love. Sometimes
I think that I am influenced by the subtle
charm of culture and of manner, which make
me esteem him, yet — do I love? My broth-
er's words of praise, for he is my broth-
er's favorite counselor — the adulation of
Esther Wake 27
which Mr. Fanning is the object at the Pal-
ace — all bewilder me. I seem to love him, when
I am with him; and when alone, I doubt.
Even at the supreme moment of our betrothal,
involuntarily I shuddered — I doubted for an
instant. Heaven ! at that very moment, there
suddenly appeared before me a man, such as
I had dreamed of in my dreams.
Margaret: Miss Esther!
Esther : He stood before me, before my fiance,
before the Governor, before the Court, his
brow held high, his eye unflinching. A com-
moner, Avhose dress betrayed the wood, whose
words marked him a prince reared in the
halls of freedom. He spoke of love for his
people, love for his Carolina, and demanded
justice from England and its representatives.
Margaret: He is brave.
Esther: Brave and beautiful in his supreme
devotion to his country. I looked at him, his
ej^es met mine. I tried, I tried, but I can not
Margaret: No heart is purer than the heart
of Esther Waive. Your heart must be your
guide. Esther Wake, even at this hour of
storm, England and Carolina call on you to
do your duty for their sake. Your courtesy
has won the love of the Colonists. They are
on the very brink of rebellion, of revolt. Their
hand is on the hilt of the sword. You must
go and keep the sword in the scabbard. You
will witness the trial, and in the troubled
waves of a thousand passions, you will pour
the calming oil of love. Go, I go with you.
28 Esther Wake
Esther: And your children?
Margaret : Aunt Cliloe will take care of them.
They will be safe— But hush, little Effie
Effie (slowly rises, and comes to Miss Esther,
idIio takes her on her knee) : I know who you
are. Mama told us all about you. She said
you are Miss Esther and that you are good
and kind. Mama said she loved you —
Esther: And do you love me, too?
Effie : Mama loves you, brother loves you, and
I love you, too — Won't you sing me back to
Esther (kisses her) : I will, you are very sweet.
Dick (enters, a wrap on his arm and an old-
fashioned lantern with a candle in his hand) :
Miss Esther. (He coughs to call attention; he
frowns.) Margaret's child on the knees of Es-
Esther: Dick, your light blinds the child.
Stand over there, and I will sing. (She sings
softly the first stanza of ^"^ Abide With Me/^
The child goes back to sleep, Margaret kneels
at the feet of Esther, bending her head in
prayer. Dick stands and listens respectfully.)
The Scene Changes.
The Scene represents Maddox Mill on the Eno
River, near a ford. A campfire burns brightly.
Several men are gathered around it. Others
take care of horses near by, some just ride into
camp on their ivay to Newbern.
All: A song, a song!
Esther Wake 29
Howell : Let us have a cup of coffee first, boys,
and pour it careful. Don't spill a drop. With
these here taxes on it, it'll soon be worth a
pound a whiff.
Hunter: And they have taxed the sugar, too.
Well, we always will have water if we get too
thirsty, though I say that water is a poor drink
for a gentleman.
Howell: They have just put on a new tax. It
is powder this time, and the tax is way up.
Hunter: Ain't we got rabbit traps? When
them Englismen think they will keep the game
to thesselves, they is sure mistaken.
Howell : That is a tax I won't pay. I will just
keep a little powder around, taxes or no taxes.
Hunter: You have a mighty fine gun, Howell,
and mine is not a bad one, either. I suppose,
you would not mind using a little of that high
tax powder on Fanning, would you Ked?
Howell : I do not know as I would object let-
ting a little daylight in the gentleman.
Hunter: Might feed a little lead to the Great
Wolf, too. Those fellows have been loading
their stomachs pretty heavy on us poor folks.
We might let them throw up some of the tax-
Howell : Men, we have just to stop that whole
business. Fanning thinks that he can keep
shearing the wool from our backs, but we will
show him that the men of Orange are not lit-
tle bleating lambs. Why, that man comes
here from the great University of Yale, he
says, to civilize us, he says; this civilizing
business comes mighty high !
30 Esther Wake
Hunter: The more civilization I get, the less
money I have in my pocket.
Howell: If the officers continue to grant us
the blessings of civilization and high taxa-
tion, the whole damn county will be busted.
Well, I am glad that Pugh sued him in the
Court at Hillsboro. I don't know as the Court
will do anything with him, they are all in with
Hunter: Well, I say, that there is one man,
who will stand for what is right. That is
young Chief-Justice Henderson.
Howell: I wished they were all like him, but
they ain't. Hallo, there is old man Pearson.
Give us a song, Pearson, your new song.
All: A song! a song! (They gather around
Hunter: We just can't get along without you,
Pearson, tune up your fiddle.
Pearson : I have just tried something you will
All : Let us hear it, let us hear it !
Pearson (tunes up) : Wait and I will line out
this song, it is a brand new one. (He sings first ,
the others sing after him. The tune may he
taken from ^^Auld Lang Syne.^^)
When Fanning first to Orange came,
He looked both pale and wan,
An old patched coat was on his back.
An old blind mare he rode on.
Both mare and man wan't worth five pounds
As I've been often told,
But by his civil robberies he's laced his coat with gold.
Esther Wake 31
Howell : Good song, boys, and it tells the truth.
By the Avay, did you hear that he is going to
marry Miss Esther Wake, the sister of the
Hunter : Well, I'll be damned !
Howell: She is going to marry him just the
same, though I think she does not love him.
Hunter : She just can't, that is all !
Howell : Pugh told me that she is promised to
him, he was there when she did. She is too
fine a woman for a man like him.
Hunter: She is the finest Avoman in Carolina!
I would like to see a better one! That is the
Governor and all the other folks over there
that is influencing her. She just can't love a
man like Fanning. He is just too proud and
Howell: They ain't married yet.
Pearson : And I trust they won't be —
Hunter: Who is that?
Howell: Bless my eyes, my innocent eyes, if
that is not Mr. Wood, Mr. Fanning's right-
hand man. Come in, come right in, Mr. Wood,
we would give you a cup of coffee, only our
hospitality can't stand the expense.
Wood: Thank you, gentlemen, have you seen
anything of old man Pearson?
Pearson : Here I am, sir, can I do anything for
Wood : I have been at your house several times,
but missed you. I have a little bill against
you, old friend, a little something for taxes.
32 Esther Wake
You were miglity slow in paying, and I am in-
structed to seize your horse.
Pearson : You do not mean to say tliat you are
going to talie my horse?
Wood: Pearson, I cannot help myself. I am
acting in the name of the Government, and you
know taxes has to be paid.
Pearson : My wife has been sick, and I have
had a lot of expense. The horse is my only
chance of making a crop, if you take it—
Howell: Give the poor devil a chance, Wood,
and the devil will give you one some day, you
will need it bad enough. (So7ne say "That's
right, that's right!")
Wood : One of you men lend him the money. It
is only twenty shillings.
Howell: Only twenty shillings! and at this
time of the year! You can find that money
only in the pockets of the officers.
Wood: Quit your jesting. I am here on the
King's business, in the name of His Majesty,
do you surrender the money or the animal?
Pearson : Wood, I pity you and the men who
sent you. These old hands have never held a job
like yours, they never helped to crush a man.
They have always lifted up, never borne down.
Well, you have the law on your side, and
maybe you are right. England needs our
taxes ; our wives and children may go hungry,
but England shall have its taxes. William,
bring old Grey.
William : You are not going to give him up.
Esther Wake 33
Pearson : Hush, my boy, bring him here.
William: Please don't. He is my horse and
Wood : Stand back little fellow. Your grandpa
and you are too proud to pay your taxes. How
will you run the government, eh? Pearson,
pay that pound and keep the old horse.
Pearson (leads in horse hij the bridle. Where
this can not he done conveniently , only the
bridle lines should be shown) : Here he is, sir.
Wood : Perhaps some of you would like to bid
on him. I will sell him right here, that will
save me the trouble of taking him home.
What am I bid for this animal?
William : Please, sir, don't sell him.
Wood (paying no attention to William j .• Come
on, a little good will. Who wants him? One
pound, ten shillings. Five shillings, who of-
fers one shilling?
Wood : Who starts him at one shilling? (Thun-
der in the distance.) If you do not bid, gen-
tlemen, I shall have to take him home with
me — for the last time, no one bids? Give me
the horse, here we go.
William (stepping before him): No, sir, you
shall not have him, he is my horse.
Wood: Get away, little fellow, or I will hurt
Howell (intervening) : That you won't. Lay
your finger on that boy, and there will be
34 Esther Wake
Pearson : Be calm, men, he represents the law.
Howell: I don't care a damn, whom he repre-
sents. If he touches that boy, I'll burst his
Wood (draws pistol): Careful, Howell, care-
Pearson : Gentlemen, we must obey, although
it is hard to do sometimes. We are a law-
abiding people. (Ee takes William to Mm.)
Here you, my boy. Take the horse, Wood. Re-
member the day of freedom is at hand, Eng-
land will soon stop to treat her Colonists like
slaves. The clouds are thickening over Caro-
lina and soon the storm will break. (Thun-
der^ lightning.) Take the horse.
William (shakes himself loose from his grand-
father) : He shall not have him !
Howell (advances again): I swear, he shall
not have him. (Wood aims at him.)
PuGH (entering rapidly) : Put up your weapon,
W^ood. Here is your pound. I have ridden all
the way from Hillsboro to find you, and pay
Wood: You came in time to save trouble, sir.
Howell, I will report you for contempt of the
Howell: Contempt, contempt! You are not
wortliy of my contempt. Coward, if you are a
man, put up your pistol, and let us liave it out,
man to man.
PuGH : You are too hot-headed, Howell. Mr.
Wood, you have your money; do not quarrel
further. I think it wiser for you to go.
Esther Wake 35
(^WooD exit sloiclij.) Confound you, men, you
are too hasty: for the sake of a horse, you
would have good men killed. We need evei^
one of you. I am just from Hillsboro. The
news has reached us, that the Governor has
changed his mind, that he will not attend the
Pearson : He gave his word that he would
Hunter: It is just like I said it would have
been. The courts is rotten.
PuGH : There remains one more chance. The
Chief-Justice, Mr. Henderson, can not be
bought. He may see to it that the others do
their duty. You must go back; you must not
go to Newbern. Boys, the Regulation needs
you. Keep your rifles ready, and your powder
dry. England has long enough oppressed us.
She will soon hear the eagle scream over the
hills of the Eno.
(Violent thunder clap.)
Husbands (whose voice is heard after the noise
of the thunder, hehind the scene, from the
ford) : Asses ! Asses ! You are even as asses
laden under a burden.
PuGH : Parson Husbands, what brings you
Husbands : I seek men and I only find asses.
Men of Carolina, what a falling-off there is
here! Men endowed with reason and under-
standing have basely degenerated into asses.
They have lowly crouched themselves under
the burden of oppression. Men, you have sold
your birthright: when the time of election
36 Esther Wake
came, wealthy flatterers lay in wait for you to
buy your votes. With money in their right
and drink in their left, they bought your souls.
For a few days of riot and of gluttony, you
have given your liberty. North Carolinians,
you have published to the world that you are
PuGH : Your words are bitter, sir.
Husbands: Not half as bitter as your deeds.
Pugh, where is the Great Wolf, who promised
to visit us and redress our griefs? Two weeks
have elapsed since he promised to see the offi-
cers who robbed us brought to justice. He has
not come, and only the fawning Panning and
a couple of ladies are on their way to Orange.
Howell: How do you know?
Husbands : There, beyond the ford, they are en-
camped. Fanning, Miss Esther Wake, and a
woman Margaret, together with an old and
quarrelsome servant. The Great Wolf is not
(Thunder and lightning increase. Rain
'begins to fall.)
Husbands : They asked me if the ford was safe.
I pointed to the angry heavens, and told them
to remember Pharaoh and his army. I would
not wonder if the arm of Providence should
not strike them because of the iniquity of their
Pugh: Parson, there are women among those
travelers. Curse the men, but not a word
against the women.
Husbands : Young man, you have seen the face
of Esther Wake. Like all the others you think
Esther Wake 37
her great and wonderful. Young man, yon
Esther may be a Delilah.
Pugh: Parson Husbands, this is neither the
time nor the place for idle words. We all
know that the Governor refuses to meet us,
that we are facing a long and bitter struggle
with England. Every day we are drifting
further and further apart. Carolinians, let us
be united in this struggle for freedom. Caro-
lina calls us. Sir, I pray you as a minister of
God to pray with us to that God in this free
forest, where his lightnings leap unchained,
where his winds sing of everlasting freedom,
pray that the God of freedom may be with us.
Pearson : Brother Pugh is right, lead us in
Husbands: God of the Heavens, whose frown
is night, whose smile is day ; God, who smitest
the proud and tenderly liftest up the Aveak, we
call on Thee tonight. Thy thunder rolls from
chasm to chasm, thy lightning leaps from
abyss unto abyss, and chasm and abyss are in
the hollow of thine hand. Thou art the Mas-
ter: before Thee we stand with heads bowed
and souls bared. We pray thee for our coun-
try. These men are about to battle for their
altars and for Thee. Make them strong in
their fight. Protect the woman by her fireside,
the babe that smiles in her arms. Thou, who
rulest the earth, destroy injustice and oppres-
sion, uphold the arm of thy people. God go
with us, and be with us. Amen !
All : Amen.
38 Esther Wake
PuGH : One word before we go, Brother Regu-
lators. You have sworn the oath of the Regu-
lation, do you swear once more, that you will
resist oppression even until death?
All: Even until death.
Pugh: Then meet me at Hillsboro, brethren,
when the Court meets. Let each man bring
his rifle. If we cannot obtain justice in the
court, if Fanning goes free, if he is permit-
ted to suck further the last drop from our
veins, then down with England and let your
(Cri/ in the distance.)
Margaret (rushing up): Help! help! a woman
in the ford ! Save them, the water is carrying
them away. Miss Wake, Dick and Mr. Fan-
ning. They tried to cross, but suddenly the
creek rose and swept them off. Save them,
save them !
Howell: Save Fanning? Never! Let him
Margaret: But the w^oman!
Pugh: We fight neither men nor women who
are dying. Come, men, come!
(He rushes off, they folloio him.)
Margaret (tries to folloiv, hut staggers against
a tree): Heaven help them! What a scene,
a fearful scene! O, the waters! the waters —
Yonder they reach the ford. Flash lightning
from every nook and corner and crevice of
heaven. Multiply your radiant shafts and
throw the light of day upon those waters!
Beacon lights of the sky, rush from the bosom
Esther Wake 39
of the clouds into the bosom of those waters.
Spend your brightness on bank and tree and
root and rock, that they may find her whom
my heart adores. Hush, thunders, that they
may hear her voice, waves cease your roaring.
They reach the bank. Pugh, brave Pugh,
wades in. (Lightning.) The waves roll against
his breast. He falters — no he goes forward.
They reach him a torch ! On ! On ! my hero !
Look, he stretches forth his arm. He catches
something dark. (Lightning.) He staggers
with his burden — The men surround him. They
help him. It is Esther, Esther ! Thank Heav-
ens she is safe ! (She staggers a step further.)
Look, yonder man saves Dick, and Mr. Fan-
ning — Saved, all saved!
Pugh (assisted hy two companions^ brings in
Esther wrapped in a blanket): Stir up the
Husbands (coming near) : The daughter of the
Philistine in the hands of the enemy.
Pugh : A w^oman in the hands of gentlemen, sir !
( Margaret kneels by Esther, and strokes
her facCy as the latter is still faint.)
Pugh: Attend to your fair companion. Mis-
tress Margaret, she is coming to.
(The fire flickers up.)
Esther (awakening): Where am I? — O! the
Margaret: Safe, Miss Esther, we are all safe!
Esther: And Dick and Mr. Fanning?
Margaret : Safe, safe. These men snatched us
40 Esther Wake
Esther: Gentlemen, we owe our lives to you.
William (quickly advances and gives Esther a
red rose): Take this rose, Miss Esther, I
plucked it in the light of the lightning for you,
because you are good.
Esther: Thank you, little friend. Gentlemen,
your kindness overwhelms me. How shall I
ever repay you?
Pearson : Your love for our people is our pay,
our ample pay. Come, men, whilst they wait
on Miss Wake, let us help the others.
(All run off; PuGH remains.)
PuGH : They are happy. Miss Wake, because
they saved you.
(Fire hums 'brightly.)
Margaret: Not "they'' did save you — ^^he
snatched you from the waves.
Esther: Mr. Pugh — you saved me. (8he is
startled, then suddenly, ivithout a word, gives
him the rose.)
Pugh: This rose shall be more to me than
any other gift from your hand. A child of
Carolina plucked it for you, England's daugh-
ter; you give it to a son of Carolina. Miss
Wake, we have long honored you in Orange
County; tonight the storm has brought us
nearer. All these freemen are your friends.
(He reverently kisses the rose.) Yonder they
are helping your escort because of you — With
them I pledge you my devotion. (He quietly
walks toward the ford. Esther follows him
with her eyes, Margaret places her arm about
Esther Wake 41
ACT III, Scene 1. Hillshoro. A room elegantly
Esther : He Avill come !
Margaret: And he will help us.
Esther: How powerful this man is among
men ! The Kegulators love him more and
more, what makes him so beloved?
Margaret : His own love for Carolina. On her
altars he would gladly lay down his life, that
his brethren might have peace and prosperity.
You did right to send for him, for he alone is
master of these masses.
Esther: I must beg him that Mr. Fanning be
spared. Guiltless or guilty, the frenzied Reg-
ulators may not let him go unharmed. If they
should lay hands on him, the representative of
his Majesty, will not all England resent the
insult? Mr. Fanning's courage challenges my
admiration; still I wish that his imprudence
had not brought about this trial.
Margaret : All is not lost. It is true that yon-
der (she goes to the windoio) the crowds are
gathering in ominous nearness of the court-
house. I see them carry sticks and other
weapons. In this very storm of passion, there
will be one voice to bid the winds be still.
Esther (seizing Margaret hy both hands) : Mar-
garet, why do I feel so strangely? At his ap-
proach my body trembles and I feel almost
faint. Do stay with me.
Margaret: Esther Wake, once upon a time a
Jewish girl saved her people from destruction,
42 Esther Wake
and her name was Esther. Do you love your
Carolina? Your heart is pure and the God of
Esther of old is still your God. I believe in
you and your unselfish devotion to the people.
You must meet Mr. Pugh and plead for peace.
You must stay the sword that dangles over
the head of Carolina.
Esther: Good Margaret, be with me, and let
me be brave for the sake of my England and
my Carolina. Hush, I hear a step !
Margaret: It is he. Let me open. (She opens
the door; Pugh enters and makes a slight rev-
Esther: Mr. Pugh.
Pugh (holding between his fingers a little note) :
Miss Wake, you sent for me?
Esther: I regret that you should have been
disturbed by my invitation to this interview.
Pugh: Your wishes. Miss Esther, are pleasant
orders to the men of Orange.
Esther: How does the trial proceed. Is all
the testimony in against Mr. Fanning?
Pugh : It is, I w^as the last witness against him.
Esther: You were his main accuser?
Pugh : In the name of my people, I taxed him
with illegal robbery and with oppression.
Esther (going to the windoiv) : Why are those
crowds gathered about the court-house? Why
Pugh : They believe the Court unfair.
Esther: And will take the law into their own
Esther Wake 43
PUGH : They believe that they will not receive
Esther: What if Mr. Fanning is found guilty?
PuGH : They may be satisfied.
Esther: If innocent?
PuGH : Heaven then have mercy on his soul !
His head in the lion's jaws.
Esther : The Court is just ; why will the people
not receive its decision?
PuGH : The people believe all corrupt. There
is but one man whom they respect, Chief Jus-
tice Henderson, but what can he do against
the many friends of Mr. Fanning on the bench
and at the bar?
Esther: Mr. Pugh, there must be no trouble.
No harm must come to Mr. Fanning.
Pugh: Why did he oppress the people? He is
in the midst of those whom he crushed under
his infamous taxes; how can he save himself?
Esther : Mr. Pugh, you are brave and fair :
grant Mr. Fanning brave. He came Avithout
a tremor in the midst of the men who hated
him. Today he faces you, one against a hun-
Pugh : The sheriff is his friend, so are the law-
yers and the Court, let them protect him.
Esther: Who can chain again the loosened
passions of an infuriated people? Who can
control a mob ? When the hue and the cry are
raised against a man, men cease to be human.
The primeval brute that sleeps within them
rises from its slumber, bursts the light bonds
of superficial civilization and takes possession
44 Esther Wake
of each furious breast. Men are no longer
men, but plain, destroying, rabid brutes that
know no joy, but the agony of a victim; no
limit to their cruelty but the utter destruction
of the object of their insensate wrath ; yet that
mob must be calm.
PuGH : Miss Wake, you yourself asked the ques-
tion: who will calm them?
Esther: One man can hold yonder men in
bonds, because those men believe him brave,
noble, true. That man must shield the repre-
sentative of the King and of the law, even
were he a thousand times unworthy. The
peace of Carolina, the weal of its citizens de-
mand that he shall speak.
Pugh: Who is that man?
Esther: You — must have him.
Pugh: I, his bitterest enemy?
Esther : In your soul you would not harm him.
True, your lips accused him, but will you lift
a hand to strike him?
Pugh : Miss Wake, this hand shall never harm
Mr. Fanning. But he represents England and
all the odious laws that have oppressed us.
Why do not your people understand that we
are freemen? We are perhaps unlettered, as
they say across the sea. One thing, however,
we know ; that is the Saxon's love of freedom.
Let Mr. Fanning and his lawyers cease to ex-
asperate the people and peace will reign su-
Esther: There is confusion now between Eng-
land and Carolina, a better day will dawn,
Esther Wake 45
when the old mother country will embrace her
youthful daughter. Then will old Avrongs be
forgotten and there will be peace. Once more,
I beg you, let the wounds that bleed in our
common hearts not be further irritated. Pro-
tect him, save him.
PuGH : He is my enemy, he hates me : yet will
I try to save him because of my love for Caro-
lina, and my esteem for you. (He draios hack
a few steps, then returns as if in deep thought.)
Miss Wake, do you remember the night at
Newbern, when I saw you in the splendor of
PuGH : Do you remember the night about the
campfire, when we gladly braved the waves
that you might live? Those nights Avere the
dawn of a new day in my soul. Your goodness
and your kindness have shone brightly about
me; I have lived happily in that light, and to-
day it shall be my guide when I shall walk
with a smile in the very valley of death —
Esther: Of death?
PuGH : Of death ! See yonder the mob is gath-
ering faster, men are standing in ever-growing
groups. Those heads are bent in earnest con-
versation. Those fists are clenched — Yet I go,
because you have wished it.
Esther : I knew that you are brave and strong.
PUGH (coming nearer): Because you have
willed it — Esther Wake — my law and my love.
Esther: Do not say those words, I am be-
46 Esther Wake
Pugh: I love you, Esther Wake, and I will
love you as long as yonder hills stand on the
banks of the Eno. I will love you even if you
should hate me — but no, you do not hate me —
on my heart there lies a red, red rose. Your
lips have kissed it, it is mine. Do you hate
me — do you love me? Tell me ere I go.
Esther: I may not — I must not — but James, I
do — ! Pugh Jdsses her hand.)
Dick knocks at the door.
Esther: Someone there? (Pugh goes out, greet-
ing her reverently.)
Dick (entering): Mr. Fanning is at the door.
Miss Esther, and wishes to see you.
Esther : Let him enter, Dick.
Dick: And Miss Esther, permit me. I think
that it is high time for us to return to New-
bern. I do not like the looks of things about
me. The people are all excited and gathered
in front of the court-house. Then there is that
man, who just left the room. It seems he
looks at me all the time; he has no manners.
Esther: Hush, Dick, he is a gentleman.
Dick: To you, of course. Miss Esther, who
would not be? Well, I have decided, with your
kind permission, not to remain any longer in
this land of barbarians. I am obliged to leave.
(Fanning is heard at the door. Dick draws
hack and lets him enter.)
Fanning: Good morning, Miss Esther. I wish
to come and inform you that things are better
and brighter for me.
Esther Wake 47
Esther: You are kind, Mr. Fanning, I sin-
cerely trust that everything will come out
right for you.
Fanning: Aye, my lady, Pugh and his Regu-
lators will soon see that there are still judges
in England ! They accused me falsely.
Esther: Could Mr. Pugh have imagined that
he was right?
Fanning: Miss Esther, he is our bitterest en-
emy. He hates the very name of England.
He is the unforgiving foe of the Governor, he
hates us all.
Esther: Maybe that in the collecting of those
taxes some mistakes were made, some unfor-
tunately harsh measures taken.
Fanning: Miss Wake, do you Avish to excuse
the enemy of your fiance?
Esther : I try to be on the side of justice. Any
love that I should bear a man must not blind
me to his mistakes. If you are wrong, there
is still time to acknowledge the error which
you made. Meet the people frankly, there is
Fanning: They are a vulgar rabble, led and
captained by one man without principle. Me
they hate. I in turn despise them. The case
is in the hands of the Court: let the Court
Esther: I love those freemen! Mr. Fanning,
I wish that they might esteem you.
Fanning: You do not understand them. Miss
Wake. They have treated you with ostenta-
48 Esther Wake
tious hospitality, since one saved you from
the waters of the Eno. Their love may be
Esther: Mr. Fanning.
Fanning: Who can trust him, who left these
apartments. Why was he here?
Esther: Because / sent for him. I asked him
to make a last effort for peace.
Fanning: Thank you, fair love! (sarcasti-
cally). A last effort for peace with — me. May
1 be present at your next interview? Then,
when he shall accuse me, I shall have an op-
portunity to defend myself.
Esther : Sir, I regret that our interview should
have caused you displeasure. Permit me, the
peace in the Colony must not be disturbed.
(Going to the window.) Do you see the men
of Orange gathered in front of the court-
house? When have we seen such a crowd in
Hillsboro? Are you sure that you will be un-
Fanning : Not one of that vulgar rabble would
dare to touch me. They are too cowardly.
But, I must go, my love ; I know your thoughts
will go with me, and I shall think of you.
Pray, may I have the rose my love wears?
Esther (slowly talcing the rose from her hosom,
shakes it and the leaves fall) : It is with-
ered, its leaves are falling.
Fanning (takes it, all the leaves fall): It is
still a rose.
Esther (slowly): A dead — dead — rose.
Esther Wake 49
Call on the Outside: "Fanning, Colonel Ed-
mund Fanning, come into court; Edmund
Fanning, come into courf
Esther: I hear your name; the Court has re-
sumed its session.
Fanning: The jury will be ready for the ver-
dict. Good-bye my fiancee — you shall soon see
me free — (Exit.)
The scene represents the outside of the
court-house at Eillshoro. A vast multitude
is crowded about the door, prominent among
the men are the Regulators.
Hunter (stands nearest the door, on a barrel.
Ee describes to his companions the scene in-
side the building, looking in over the heads of
the people) : Shut your mouths, fellows, I can
not hear a damn thing.
Howell: That is right, keep still. We will
soon hear the verdict ; keep still, I say !
Hunter: Shut up, men, shut up! They are
coming in now, the jury is ready to report. —
(silence) — Guilty, men, Fanning is guilty!
Howell : The scoundrel is guilty ! Hurrah for
the Court! Down with Fanning!
All: Hurrah for the Court! Down with Fan-
Hunter: Shut up, shut up, the judge is going
to talk. (Silence and attention of all.) He
fines him one penny ! One damn penny !
All : One penny, one damn penny ! Down with
Fanning, down with the Court, down with
Tryon! Away with England! Down with
50 Esther Wake
Howell: Down with the lawyers! Hang them
Hunter: They are taking out the lawyers
through the back door, they are going to hang
them. The Chief Justice alone goes free. The
lawyers, the clerks are all to blame !
Hunter: Men, men! Here comes Fanning.
Let us hang him! (They divide in two groups
ready to surround Fanning as he comes out.)
Howell: Look out. Regulators! here comes our
Fanning (coming out of the court-house) : Let
me go — (they seize him) infernal cowards!
Let me loose !
All: A rope, a rope!
Fanning: Get your rope, you assassins! Do
you dare to let me say a word before you kill
Howell: Not a word!
Hunter: You old publican, you old tyrant, we
have got you, and we shan't turn you loose.
All: Down with the tyrant!
Howell: They fined him one penny, men!
Hunter: He put some of our best men in jail
for debt. He did not want old man Pearson
to make an honest living ! He wanted to take
All: Here comes the men with the rope. The
rope ! The rope ! (They throw it around Fan-
ning' s neck.)
Pearson: Hold on, brethren, don't hang that
man, it is a crime before God and men ! (The
Esther Wake 51
crowd listens to him a momeyit, then the noise
begins again.) If you do not want to turn him
loose, give him at least a chance to pray !
Fanning (all silent) : I am all right. I am not
afraid to die. What I want to say is this:
Howell, Pearson, listen !
Hunter: He wants to get away, pull the rope.
Sling it over that limb. Throw it over, I say,
can't you do it?
PuGH (rushing out from court-house) : Give me
that rope! (He pulls it down from the tree.)
By God, men, what do you mean? Ten against
Howell: He is a tyrant!
Hunter : An oppressor. The tool of England !
Howell : The Court is rotten. They fined him
PuGH : I know that ! Still what do you mean.
Brother Regulators, killing a man, twenty
against one ! Take a man unawares ! What
of the sacred oath of the Regulation that tells
us to treat all our foes fair? I have no love
for this man, I have no love for England that
sent him, but I will not stab a man in the
back ! Who has heard that a man was ever
fought in Orange County, without having first
received a warning? We notify the enemies
of the Regulation, who has told this man to
Hunter: He has used foul means against us!
PuGH : And if he has, must the Regulators
play foul? Regulators, they call us barba-
rians at Newbern: let us show those English
52 Esther Wake
flunkeys that the Kegulation stands for fair
and open fight.
Pearson : That is right ! Then there are others
guilty besides him !
PuGH : If you hang this man, you must hang
all! Brethren, are we executioners?
Hunter: He shan't go. He has put several of
our people in jail. Hang him! Pull that
All : Pull the rope ! the rope !
PuGH (snatches rope from Panning's neck) : De-
fend yourself, take this knife. (Be throios
him a knife.) I swear that I will kill the first
man who makes a step nearer. The first man,
who touches Fanning, is my man ! Come on,
Kegulators, kill a brother Regulator, kill a
neighbor and a friend!
Pearson : Pugh is our leader !
Hunter (advances against Fanning;
Pugh seizes him and throtvs him doivn.)
Pugh : By God, Hunter, I do not want to hurt
you, but stand back, I say !
Pearson (rushes in) : Hold on, Hunter ! Pugh
is right. We are not giving him a fair show !
Howell, are you going back on your old
Howell (hesitates a moment^ then suddenly
stands hy Pugh) : I am with you, Jim! Let
Fanning go, boys!
(All fall hack.)
Pugh (to Fanning) : You are free, sir!
Howell : He is free. But we must meet again !
Esther Wake 53
Fanning: I am no coward, sir. If you had
hanged me, I would have shown you how to
die. I do not beg for my life. Still I thank
you for having saved your countrymen from
this murder. Generous foe, between you and
me there must, however, not be peace. In an-
other place, and at another time, I will explain.
(To the Regulators): You men of Orange,
have committed a heinous crime: you have
insulted the Government of His Majesty. Of
your own free will, you have chosen war.
(Murmur.) Whether I go free or not, you will
have to fight a stronger man than me. When
the time comes, I shall meet you sword in
hand, face to face, and there will be no quar-
PuGH : Tell your master, that we will be ready
when you call. We men of Orange are free-
born citizens, a plain people, who know but
one law. That law is not written on the
statute books of yonder court, but in our
hearts. That law is eternal: it is the law of
uncompromising liberty and justice. Tell the
Great Wolf that the men of Orange wear no
man's collar. It is war, you say; war with
England. Let war come, deadly, grim and
without mercy. We will fight for the same
liberty for which our Saxon fathers fought.
Personally, Mr. Fanning, I give you rendevous
in the thickest of the battle where brave men
meet and where cowards do not set foot. You
will find me there.
Fanning : If we meet, remember that I never
asked of you or anyone, to save my life today.
54 Esther Wake
PuGH : Farewell, sir. Gather together your
soldiers, the time has come. Stand back, boys,
and let him pass.
(All fall hack and let him go off the stage.)
PuGH : Regulators ! our fight with England has
begun. Hurrah, for Old Orange! Hurrah,
The scene changes.
Scene 3. Miss Wake's reception room.
Esther: What good news, Mr. Fanning?
Fanning: Free my love, yet is the news not
good. There will be war, bitter war, between
England and the Colonies.
Esther: I do not see the reason.
Fanning: They have mortally insulted your
brother and the whole English nation.
Esther: I do not understand you. Colonel.
Fanning: The much heralded onslaught of
Pugh proved me innocent; his testimony was
utterly worthless. He, the leader of the Reg-
ulation, could find no valid charge against
me. The Court found me guilty of some minor
errors ; the judge arose and pronounced me in-
nocent. For form's sake he fined me one
penny. Then the rabble broke into a frenz}^,
they seized the lawyers and beat them with-
Esther: And you?
Fanning: They dragged me on the green, and
threatened to hang me. They heaped the vilest
insults on me. I fought like one possessed,
but could not resist their numbers. Then I
Esther Wake 55
resolved to die with a smile of contempt on
my lips for those Orange cowards. Suddenly
Pugh intervened and interposed himself be-
tween his people and vile murder. He ob-
tained my freedom.
Esther: He is brave.
Fanning: Aye, he is brave. Still I owe him
nothing. I would not beg him for my life. I
would not have cared if they had murdered
Esther: Mr. Fanning!
Fanning : I despise them all. I hate them like
a vile diseased crowd. I wish that I might de-
Esther: They did not destroy you. You had
some friends among them.
Fanning: Is Pugh my friend? I hate him
with all the most intense power of my soul.
Fanning: He is the man who brought
about this trouble. He is the man who stirred
the ashes in the bosom of his fellow Regulators
and blew into lurid flames, their hatred
Esther : And he saved you !
Fanning : He saved me. I hate life at the hands
of this subtle Greek. I have challenged him
to a mortal duel on the battlefield, when his
mob and our soldiers shall meet. He has ac-
cepted my challenge ; he or I must die.
Esther : You are beside yourself with emotion,
56 Esther Wake
Fanning (growing more passionate) : On the
contrary, my lady love (sarcastically) I am
as calm as a slumbering lake in the lap of the
valley. I am calm, but my eyes are not blind.
Esther: Not blind?
Fanning: Are you my betrothed? Did you
solemnly pledge that you would marry me?
Esther : I did.
Fanning: This morning a certain man, before
he came here, swore that he would see me
hanged, if the Court set me free. If the peo-
ple used violence against me, he would not lift
his finger to protect me. Barely an hour af-
terwards, that same man stood in the midst
of the mob and defied any man to touch me.
Who changed him?
Esther: / asked that no violence be done.
Fanning : Miss Wake, I do not doubt your pop-
ularity among the Kegulators : but that man
did not change his mind because of courtesy
Esther: He yielded to the force of my argu-
ments — to my reason.
Fanning : Arguments, reasons ! There is an-
other force that is mightier than reason. The
force which drove Francesca in the arms of
her Paolo, that fashioned with everlasting
chains Abelard and Heloise; the force that
sent Dante through hell in search of his Beat-
rice — Miss Esther in the crowd, Pugh and I
stood face to face. When he had succeeded in
staying the hands of the assassins, I read in
his eyes, not care and consideration, but deep-
Esther Wake 57
est hatred and defiance. His lips were
wreathed in triumph, in subtle triumph over
Esther: In subtle triumph over you?
Fanning: Suddenly I guessed the truth, the
whole truth : he is no longer my rival in poli-
tics; he is no longer the self-appointed guar-
dian of the people's right ; he has entered an-
other field against me. He, the lonely black-
smith of a little country village, dares to raise
his eyes to the first lady of the land. Am I
wrong? If so, on both my knees I beg your
Esther: Your words are bitter.
Fanning: They are true: Miss Wake, do you
still love me?
Esther: I still esteem you for your courage,
for your manly qualities!
Fanning: But do you love me?
Esther: I am still your fiancee. Yet in my
soul doubt and coldness seem to dawn — yes,
deep in my soul —
Fanning: Do not say the fatal words (with
supreme determination). I understand
enough, Miss Wake. Tonight I leave for New-
born to inform your brother of the happenings
of the day. He swore to crush out this sedi-
tion. As to him, you have confirmed the sen-
tence of death on him — or on me —
Esther : I have prayed for peace between Eng-
land and Carolina — Peace between you and
Fanning: And between him and me, you have
dug an abyss that is deeper than the deepest
58 Esther Wake
depths of hell — Farewell, my lady — (He goes
to the dooVy then slowly returns.) If, how-
ever, there still be hope for me — If you would
go with me — to your brother's palace —
Esther (interrupting him): Tell brother, that
you came alone. (8he sinks on the table ^ her
face in her hands. Fanning sloioly goes out.)
Margaret enters^ finds Esther, her head
hent on the table ^ and approaching care-
fully, she places her arm about Esther's
neck, and comforts her.
Dick (all upset) : Upon my word and the word
of all my ancestors, Miss Esther, I must go. I
want to go. I shan't stay in this savage coun-
try any longer. These barbarians have threat-
ened to kill the whole Court and the Governor.
They SAvear that they will hang the King from
the highest tree in Orange County. They have
whipped all the lawyers, they have dragged
Mr. Fanning by the heels, they have hung him,
and quartered him; until he finally got away.
Margaret stejiping back, motions Dick
to be quiet.
Dick (seeing Esther) : Great Heavens! What
is that? Have the wretches been here, too?
Have they tried to hurt my mistress? By jove,
there must be an end to all this. (He seizes a
pair of pistols, which are lying on the table
near him, he brandishes them and places
himself squarely in front of the middle en-
trance door.) Now let them come, if they dare,
the damned rascals ! I defy them, one and all.
Miss Esther, Margaret, do not fear any longer,
am right here.
Esther- Wake 59
ACT IV, Scene 1. An open field, trees, rocks.
The scene represents the battlefield of Ala-
PuGH : This is the place. From here we con-
trol the road to the Great Wolf's tent.
Howell: It will get a little hot here, I guess.
PuGH : Are your guns, ready? Mind your prim-
ing, gentlemen. Howell and Hunter, you get
behind that tree as soon as you see them com-
ing. William, you stay right with me. Load
my rifles, and ram the bullets as tight as
Howell: Well, I have waited a long time for
this here party. I hope it may be a pleasant
occasion for our British friends.
Hunter (runs up all excited) : James Pugh !
Pugh: Well, sir!
Hunter: We must fight, there is no way out
Pugh: Well, then, the blood will be on the
head of the Great Wolf.
Hunter: Parson Husbands just met him, he
went to his tent, and begged him to take his
soldiers back to Newbern, and not to drive the
men of Orange into the fight. He begged and
he begged for peace. Husbands promised that
the Regulators would go home quietly, and
that all could be settled friendly.
Howell: I know the Wolf did not listen, he
60 Esther Wake
Hunter : He made an oath that he was tired of
the damned rebellion, that he would see every
Kegulator hanged before morning.
PuGH : Hand me that gun, William, and the
rod. (He rams the gun as tightly as he can.)
Howell: You are ramming her mighty tight,
PuGH : This is for him.
Hunter: And men, he killed old man Thomp-
All : The best man in Orange County !
Hunter : Yes, he was with Husbands when the
parson went to see the Governor. When Par-
son Husbands could not do a thing with Tryon,
old man Thompson turned to the Great Wolf
and told him his plain mind : ^'Governor,'' he
said, ''this is unworthy of you and of Old Eng-
land. You have advanced against your people,
with trained men, and with cannon. There
will be no end of bloodshed. War is a crime,
where we still can have peace.'' The Governor
got impatient, he drew his pistol, and shot the
poor man dead.
PuGH : The foul murder !
Howell : I hope the Great Wolf will come this
way. I will also spare him a good straight
William : Look over yonder ! (He points to
the tent of the Governor.)
Howell : Where?
William : I see a white flag.
Pearson (coming nearer) : It is a flag of truce.
PuGH : Damn his white flag !
Esther Wake 61
Pearson : What do you mean, friend, fire on a
flag of truce?
PuGH : He killed our messenger ! (shoots)
There goes his sheet !
Hunter: Lord have mercy! See the fellow
run, he does not even take up his little sheet.
You cut the staff clean in two.
PuGH : Thompson dead ! Regulators, they will
pay us dearly.
William : Look ! Look !
Pugh: Yonder they come, the Governor and
his staff. Here hold this gun, while I fire —
(he aims) Now for him — (he fires) missed
him! Shoot, Howell, shoot! Damn the luck,
you missed him, too ; he is riding like the wind !
Fire again, fire! Yonder they go — let us run
and meet them —
(All fire. 'Noise, shooting on all sides.)
Pugh (before running off, looks hack a moment
at William ) : Come on with us, William, and
bring that gun. What is that?
William (staggers and drops his gun): I am
hurt, sir, I am hurt !
Pugh (runs up to him and seizes him) : Where
William (pointing to his side) : In my side, sir,
look at the blood !
Pugh : Pearson, come back quick ! They have
Pearson : My boy, my boy ! What hurts you,
William : Nothing, grandpa. Do not worry,
it is nothing.
62 Esther Wake
Pearson: Look, Pngh, he is dying! They have
murdered him ! They have murdered my boy !
PuGH : I believe he is gone to rest — Lay him
down gently — He gave the rose to Miss Es-
ther — (A sJiot is fired near hy, Pugh rushes
Pearson: Dead! dead! How white his lips,
how glassy his eyes — William, if they had only
shot me and spared you —
Howell: Look out, Pearson — look out — they
are rushing us.
Pearson : I am glad they came. (Be takes his
gun, aims and fires.) Damn you red coats!
Howell and Pugh (run in): Look out, look
out! Yonder comes Fanning!
Fanning (running in): Here at last. Damn
you, I have looked for you. Come on !
Pugh : I am glad we met. Here is our chance !
Howell (catchhig a soldier by the throat):
Here you damn Redcoat, you are mine. (Both
roll on the ground.)
Regulators and British soldiers rush in.
The fight is general. Hunter and Pearson
are tvounded. Pugh is about to kill Fan-
ning, tvhen two British soldiers, seize him
and bear him down.
Fanning (rises): You are mine, James Pugh!
Soldier (to Fanning): Shall I shoot him, sir?
Fanning : No, he must hang, the damned rebel !
Pugh (to Fanning) : You coward, why did you
not fight me single-handed? Your soldiers
Esther Wake 63
Fanning: Kush liim to the camp, men! The
Governor will be glad to see the leader of the
Kegulation. They will all swing. (They rush
off the prisoners.)
Fanning (remaining behind): What, Pearson,
Pearson: You killed my son! you killed my
Fanning : Damn him. If he is dead, there will
be one rebel less to swing.
Pearson (half rising): God help our country!
They have taken my child, my William — and
they will murder Pugh, the noblest of them
all ! — (He sinks dead on the body of his hoy.)
Scene 2. Interior of plantation home serving as
headquarters to Tryon. Ordinary rough table y
Fanning : Thus did I capture him, my lord.
Tryon : A splendid capture. Colonel. I am
grateful to you for your brave assistance. The
wretched rebels need a lesson. The time has
come to execute the men, who are condemned
to die. See to it at once, that they be hanged.
Fanning: Hanged, drawn, and quartered.
Tryon : There is, however, a change, a change
in numbers that occurred to me. To please
some, w^e will execute only six of the twelve.
To the others I will grant life, because of the
many appeals that have reached me.
Fanning : My lord, what becomes of justice if
you pardon these? Their crime was atrocious,
your mercy will be termed weakness, and soon
the rebellion will begin again.
64 Esther Wake
Tryon: I have thought it all over, Colonel.
There is no danger in leniency. The rebels
have learned their lesson; we have crushed
them and scattered the Regulators to the four
Fanning: A strong example would bring the
men of Orange to submission for ever. What
will England say?
Tryon : Six silent men on the gallows will talk
loud enough to the whole colony.
Fanning: May I know their names?
Tryon : Here on the table lies the list.
Fanning (reads): Pugh, Howell, Messer —
Pugh was the soul of the rebellion.
Tryon : Therefore he heads the list of those
condemned to die.
Fanning: He has powerful friends, my lord,
who would like to see him live. Friends, who
forget that your fight is England's fight. Sir,
you are doing more than subduing a few farm-
er^) you are battling for the eternal principles
*of government. Shall Britain rule or shall
Britain bend to the whims and wishes of a
handful of her colonists? Pugh is not only
your foe, he is the foe of all England. If he
lives, there will be no end of rebellion.
Tryon : You are right, Colonel. He is guilty
of the blackest crime of all. He must die, who
rises in rebellion against the King.
Fanning : He bears you little love. He boasted
that his bullet grazed your temple. He re-
gretted that it did not find its aim.
Esther Wake 65
Tryon : By jove, he came near bagging the
Great Wolf. I grant him a good sportsman.
Fanning : You are a fair foe, sir.
Tryon : Every Britisher admires fair sport.
Still, this young gunsmith has gone too far.
He led his companions into the rebellion; he
shall lead them to the gallows.
Fanning: I go to execute your orders, my
lord. I will prepare the execution at once, I
trust that you will be present.
Dick (enters^ Fanning stai/s) : Miss Esther, sir,
wishes to see you at once. She is all pale and
excited. She says she must see you at once.
Tryon : Tell the little girl that I am here.
Poor little heart, she sympathizes too much
with the rebels.
Fanning : She loves them but too well. She is
Esther: Brother! brother! Mr. Fanning!
Fanning: Miss Wake.
Tryon (to Fanning) : See to it, sir, that you
march the prisoners at once to the place of exe-
cution. I will join you as they pass by this
Fanning (saluting) : At your orders, sir.
Esther: Brother, you must not! You must
spare these men.
Tryon : Did you come all the way to tell me
Esther: I rode day and night from Newbern,
to tell you that these men must not die.
66 Esther Wake
Tryon: You tremble all over. Why are you
Esther : You are too good, too kind, too noble,
to have them executed.
Tryon : My child, this is not a question of per-
sonal feeling. These men are not our personal
enemies only : they have risen in rebellion
against the King. They will set the whole
continent afire, if they be permitted to live.
Britain never forgives high treason.
Esther: No, brother, they fought because they
believed their cause was holy. They resented
oppression, they had lost confidence in the
Court — they thought that their redress lay in
Tryon : And their conduct was execrable. They
were at war with the throne, with all England.
Esther: Brother, you have the power in your
hands, to make these men your friends forever.
Revenge forges brittle shackles of fear ; mercy,
golden chains of love. You must be merciful.
Tryon: I can not.
Esther: The greatest kings are they who wear
the robes of mercy. Theirs is the sword in
the roar of battle, the olive branch in the time
of peace. In the melee they fight; after the
fight they forgive. These men must live and
be your friends.
Tryon : You are a good girl, Esther ; unfortu-
nately your sentiment swa^^s your cooler mind.
You went to Hillsboro to prevent trouble, and
I did not oppose you. Did you infiuence the
Esther Wake 67
Esther: They granted life to your friend, Colo-
Tryon : He saved himself from the rabble.
Esther : And if the Court had done its duty !
Tryon: Esther, Esther! you know not what
you are saying. You are slandering the Court.
England's judges have ever been her greatest
Esther : I plead in favor of a people ignorant,
misguided but intensely human. Love them
and in turn they will love you.
Tryon : I have partly granted your prayer.
Twelve were condemned to death. I have par-
doned six. The other six will be executed.
Esther: Six must die!
Tryon : Here is the list of those condemned to
Esther (reads): James Pugh! Why did not
Colonel Fanning intercede for him? He saved
Mr. Fanning from a horrible death.
Tryon : Mr. Fanning does not allow his per-
sonal feelings to overrule his broad conception
Esther : Mr. Pugh dragged me from the waters
of the Eno. He risked his life for me, the sis-
ter of the man, who signed his death warrant.
Tryon : For whom he reserved his best shots at
tlie battle of Alamance.
Esther: He is young, gallant, true, he misun-
derstood you. Let him live —
Tryon : He is proud and insolent, he shall die.
Esther: On my knees, dear brother!
68 Esther Wake
Tryon : Do not beg, Esther, do not kneel —
England, England demands justice.
Esther: And Carolina, mercy.
Tryon (hesitating) : Perhaps that I might yield.
Would Pugh renounce his allegiance to the
Esther: Would you spare him?
Tryon : And submit on oath to the King?
Esther: He would.
Tryon : Then will I grant him life.
Fanning (entering ^ salutes): Sir, the prison-
ers are at the door.
Tryon : Esther desires a last interview with
the prisoner Pugh. Please defer to her wishes ;
bring in the prisoner and guard the outside.
Esther: Mr. Fanning, help me save him.
Fanning: Have you interceded with your
brother? Why does not he save him?
Esther : His loyalty to England blinds him to
all mercy. He has granted me to speak to him.
Mr. Pugh must not die.
Fanning : The Governor and the wise men, who
surround him think otherwise. They have at
heart the interest of Britain and of the Col-
ony. They are not swayed by passion.
Esther: They are enemies of the Regulators
and their hatred is their mightiest counselor.
These men must live.
Fanning: Why should I intercede for them?
If I am their foe, they are mine. My house
torn down by their hands, my body stained
Esther Wake 69
with the marks of their outrages, proclaim
them my bitter enemies. My soul still smarts
under all their insults and their injuries. They
are the men, who fought me cowardly, who
smote me. Their mouth vomited forth against
me their vilest calumnies. As to him — you
yourself have condemned him to death.
Fanning: Do you still wear that diamond
ring? I placed it on your hand, the night of
of our betrothal. That ring is mine, your
heart is his — Why do you love him?
Esther : Because Love is the echo of the Word
that flung worlds into space. Who has con-
trolled it? Who has mapped out its bounda-
ries? It made the stars leap in their courses
and suns stand still in the deep gulfs of im-
mensity. Who shall stay that Word? Bar-
riers of Society? Custom? Rank? All these
are even as dust before its onward rushing.
Love is the the Supreme Fiat, eternally crea-
tive — It is a fire kindled by the hand of Him
who rules the human hearts. A fire that
flashes, melts, fuses souls into inseparable
oneness. The flames of Love are ever-burning ;
all the waters of the seas, all the oceans of the
heavens can — will never extinguish it.
Panning: Then, why did you tell me that you
Esther: There was I sorely mistaken. I took
esteem for love, admiration for affection. For-
give him and hold me guilty — in the greatness
of your soul, save him !
70 Esther Wake
Fanning (struggling with* himself) : Esther —
Esther — I will save him — if you will forget
him, and remember me — (she staggers) The
prisoner is waiting at the door. My instruc-
tions are to leave you with him. Speak to
him, ask him to leave this land forever, and he
shall live — (Exit.)
PuGH : My love, you here?
Esther: I have come to save you, James, you
PuGH : Esther !
Esther : My brother grants you life, if you but
will it. And you must will it for your sake
and for mine.
PuGH (affected): I have prayed that I might
live for you and for my land.
Esther: Your life is in your hand, decide.
Live, James, my heart breaks when I see the
abyss at your feet —
Pugh: Did you beg him in the name of our
Esther: I shall tell him, when you shall have
chosen life. You must swear allegiance to the
British Crown and forget the Kegulation.
Then will you be free.
Pugh : Forsake my country and be free?
Esther: Not be a traitor to your country, but
bury your arms and live in peace.
Pugh : And see the grip of the oppressor about
the throat of Carolina? Stand still in silence,
when Carolina calls?
Esther: Let others fight the fight: come with
me and leave this land. We shall go into the
Esther Wake 71
wilderness. Your eye shall be the sun of my
existence, your smile shall light my path.
Come live for me —
PuGH : My love, my all ! I may not choose.
My clays with you would be an everlasting
spring, and still —
Esther : James, it must be !
PuGH : Yonder men have fought and bled with
me: shall they be free?
Esther: He promised liberty to you.
PuGH : And death to them.
Esther: A word, a word of submission. We
shall go where the trout leaps in the placid
brook, where the rose mirrors her glory in
the stream. You shall not hear of England
again, and of the Regulators. You shall for-
get, forget —
PuGH : In the breeze at night, I shall hear the
sighs of Carolina. In the storm, her call to
arms. My soul will not forget: I would leave
your side, and be once more a rebel against
Esther: We shall go where the foot of man
has never trampled the leaf of the forest,
where the deer shall lick our hand, and the
wolf gentler than man, shall sleep by our fire-
side. Forget, we shall forget!
PuGH : Forget the men, who were my daily
comrades in the task of peace? My faithful
followers in the clash of war? I should live,
and they should die?
Esther: I love you, James — live for me.
72 Esther Wake
Pugh: Esther, I have played the game with
grim Old England, I have lost. I will pay the
price. You will remember me, when I shall
slumber in the shadow of the pines. My soul
shall come to you at evening-fall, and again we
shall be as one. I am happy, for the noblest,
the best of Carolina's women today has wept
for me. Come, let me die a man, I could not
live a faint heart —
(Drum is heard on the outside.)
Pugh: I hear the beating of the drum. The
hour has come — Farewell, my love —
Esther: James — my James — (In a supreme
moment of devotion^ they embrace.)
(Drum comes nearer. They release their
grasp. Tryon enters^ together with Fan-
ning, and a number of soldiers.)
Tryon (to Esther) : What has your rebel finally
Pugh : That men of Orange can live and fight,
can lose and die.
Esther : Brother, spare him !
Fanning: For another rebellion, my Lord.
Tryon : Will you forsake the Regulation, swear
allegiance to the King, and lay down your
Pugh (firmly and calmly) : No !
Tryon: You are proud, even at this solemn
hour. You are brave and I admire your cour-
age. England will not forgive, but that you
Pugh : Sir, I love the hills and the light that is
upon them. I have listened to the rush of the
Esther Wake 73
rivers, the song of the pines, and I love their
music. They would hush their voices, and the
hills would hide their crests in darkness, should
their freeman-sons bow down before a master.
Son of England, we, too, are Saxons. We
have learned the law of liberty from the lips
of our fathers. They brought this law with
them from their Saxon homes, and their love
of freedom grew in the untrammeled forest, on
the unspoiled plains, under the expanse of our
wide heavens. On our necks there is no place
for the foot of the tyrant. Our Saxon hearts
know love, they do not know submission —
Your battle has but begun : unless you put
away from you your faithless counselors, un-
less you and England treat the Colonists as
freemen, not only Carolina, but the East and
the South will array itself in war against your
scarlet soldiers. Alamance prophesies your
defeat: the blood you shed is martyr blood,
from every drop will spring a race of men, un-
daunted and unconquered. The echoes of our
battle will be heard on all this Continent, the
groans of the dying Regulators will be a call
to arms to the young American race. You can
not grant me life; I can not accept. On these
shores this Young America and Old, Old Eng-
land can not live side by side — (He steps for-
ward to tohere Esther is standing.) Farewell,
Miss Wake — upon my heart there lies a red —
red rose —
Tryon : You have chosen, sir ; your blood is on
74 Esther Wake
Fanning (to the soldiers ivhUst he draws his
sivord in command) : Forward! March!
(The soldiers step alongside of Pugh, then
turn about and march out. Fanning and
Esther tries a step towards the window,
hut she staggers helplessly. Margaret
gently supports her. Finally Esther draws
away from her support and looks at the
Governor and Fanning, who seem to ob-
serve the execution from the window.
Esther : Brother, you have won ! England has
won! What a wretched victory! God help
my native land, God help my Carolina. And
he — his silent lips are calling, calling, and
America will hear — I die with him — I loved
him well, his heart was mine, and mine was
his. I leave your court forever, where Jus-
tice never met her sister Mercy — (She takes
her ring from her finger.) Mr. Fanning, here
is your ring, the token of a love that never
shall be. Esther Wake shall never be your
bride. (She drops the ring on the floor.)
Some day the sons of Carolina will tell of him,
whom my heart adores; they will weave his
name with mine in song undying, for he is
great, who on the altars of his country, gladly
offered love, and life and all.
Smithfield, N. C, 23 April, 1913.
IN 27 1913